• Kyodo

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Japan on Monday proposed that industrial countries scrap or slash import tariffs on 17 consumer products, including home appliances, automobiles, cameras and watches, trade sources said.

The Japanese proposal was unveiled for consideration at nonfarm global trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.

The latest Japanese proposal is a followup to one made in July, in which Tokyo called for zero-tariff status for digital consumer products, including computers. Monday’s proposal has been expanded to cover all home electronics goods.

Tokyo also proposed specific calculating formulas to help reduce tariff rates for products other than the 17 items.

The formulas were based on the average tariff rate for all nonfarm trade goods, the sources said.

Under the proposed calculation formula, countries would be placed into four categories depending on their current average tariff rates. Each of the four categories would have a level to which their average tariff rate should be reduced, they explained.

For example, a country whose average tariff rate is currently 15 percent would be required to reduce the figure to 8.9 percent.

Japan, whose average tariff rate was 1.7 percent as of 1999, falls under the category of countries having to reduce the average to 1.75 percent, and thus would not need to cut tariffs further, the sources said.

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